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Hearing Aids by Tricia Leagjeld - Redmond, OR

Man checking into hospital incurring healthcare costs because he did not take care of his hearing loss.

For years, experts have been considering the impact hearing loss has on a person’s health. Finding out what untreated hearing loss can do to your healthcare budget is the aim of a new study. As the expense of healthcare keeps rising, the medical profession and individuals are looking for ways to lower these costs. You can make a significant difference by something as straightforward as managing your hearing loss, according to a study published on November 8 2018.

How Health is Affected by Hearing Loss

Untreated hearing loss comes with hidden risks, as reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine. After 12 years of tracking it, researchers discovered that there was a significant impact on brain health in adults with mild to severe hearing loss. For example:

  • Someone with moderate hearing loss triples their chance of getting dementia
  • Dementia is five times more likely in someone who has severe hearing loss
  • The risk of dementia is doubled in people with only slight hearing loss

The study revealed that when someone suffers from hearing loss, their brain atrophies at a faster rate. The brain has to work harder to do things such as maintaining balance, and that puts stress on it that can lead to damage.

The inability to hear has an impact on quality of life, also. A person who doesn’t hear very well is more likely to have anxiety and stress. They are also prone to depression. All these factors add up to higher medical costs.

The Newest Study

The newest study published November in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that it becomes a budget breaker if you choose not to take care of your loss of hearing. This study was also led by experts from Johns Hopkins in collaboration with AARP, the University of California San Francisco and Optum Labs.

77,000 to 150,000 patients who had untreated hearing loss were examined. Individuals with normal hearing created 26 percent less health care expenses than people who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss.

As time goes by, this number continues to increase. Healthcare costs rise by 46 percent after 10 years. When you analyze the numbers, they average $22,434 per person.

Some factors that are associated with the increase are:

  • Lower quality of life
  • Dementia
  • Decline of cognitive ability
  • Depression
  • Falls

A second companion study conducted by Bloomberg School suggests a link between untreated hearing loss and higher morbidity. They also uncovered that people with untreated hearing loss also suffered from:

  • 6.9 more diagnoses of depression
  • 3.2 more diagnoses of dementia per 100 over the course of 10 years
  • 3.6 more falls

Those stats match with the study by Johns Hopkins.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:

  • At this time, two to three out of every 1,000 children has loss of hearing
  • Hearing loss is prevalent in 55 to 64 year olds at a rate of 8.5 percent
  • There’s considerable deafness in people aged 45 to 54
  • Around 15 percent of young people aged 18 have a hard time hearing

The number goes up to 25 percent for individuals aged 65 to 74 and 50 percent for anybody above the age of 74. Those numbers are predicted to rise over time. By the year 2060, as many as 38 million people in this country may have hearing loss.

The study doesn’t mention how using hearing aids can change these numbers, though. What they do know is that using hearing aids can prevent some of the health problems connected with hearing loss. Further research is required to confirm if using hearing aids decreases the cost of healthcare. There are more benefits to wearing them than not, without a doubt. Schedule an appointment with a hearing care expert to see if hearing aids help you.

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